100 Best First Lines from Novels

By Camille T. Mon, September 27, 2010

The American Book Review released a list of what they consider the 100 Best First Lines from Novels. It's a pretty interesting list, and some of my personal favorites made the cut:

#5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. —Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)

#6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)

#16. If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. —J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

#65. You better not never tell nobody but God. —Alice Walker, The Color Purple (1982)

#82. I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. —Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle (1948)

You can also check out their list of 100 Best LAST Lines from Novels.

So what are some of your favorite openings and closings of novels?

Cover of <i>Lolita</i> by Vladimir Nabokov
Cover of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Cover of <i>The Catcher in the Rye</i> by J.D. Salinger
Cover of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger


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